• elastomeric bearing;
  • extreme loading;
  • cavitation;
  • nuclear power plants;
  • isolation


The nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011 has led the nuclear community to consider seismic isolation for new large light water and small modular reactors to withstand the effects of beyond design basis loadings, including extreme earthquakes. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission is sponsoring a research project that will quantify the response of low damping rubber (LDR) and lead rubber (LR) bearings under loadings associated with extreme earthquakes. Under design basis loadings, the response of an elastomeric bearing is not expected to deviate from well-established numerical models, and bearings are not expected to experience net tension. However, under extended or beyond design basis shaking, elastomer shear strains may exceed 300% in regions of high seismic hazard, bearings may experience net tension, the compression and tension stiffness will be affected by isolator lateral displacement, and the properties of the lead core in LR bearings will degrade in the short-term because of substantial energy dissipation.

New mathematical models of LDR and LR bearings are presented for the analysis of base isolated structures under design and beyond design basis shaking, explicitly considering both the effects of lateral displacement and cyclic vertical and horizontal loading. These mathematical models extend the available formulations in shear and compression. Phenomenological models are presented to describe the behavior of elastomeric isolation bearings in tension, including the cavitation and post-cavitation behavior. The elastic mechanical properties make use of the two-spring model. Strength degradation of LR bearing under cyclic shear loading due to heating of lead core is incorporated. The bilinear area reduction method is used to include variation of critical buckling load capacity with lateral displacement. The numerical models are coded in OpenSees, and the results of numerical analysis are compared with test data. The effect of different parameters on the response is investigated through a series of analyses. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.